We had a hectic January. On December 31 we went to town to do some final preparations for a movie night for the Umumbe church. While we were driving our 2003 VW Jetta, it started making a lot of noise and wasn’t starting properly. We decided to head straight to the VW garage to have it checked. About a mile from there, the engine died and would not restart so we had to be towed to VW. After several days they told us the engine was finished and presented us with a quote for parts and labor that was about double the value of the car. They said they would try to find a used engine, but they are rare. We decided to offer it for sale – as is – and had a few queries and finally a concrete offer. We decided to accept the offer and say “good-bye” to a car we had enjoyed for many years. The buyer collected it from VW on the 30th of January and on the 7th of February we met him and he was driving it. He had managed to find an engine and he and a friend installed it!
Meantime we were car-shopping. All of our children drive Toyotas and encouraged us to follow suit. We approached the local dealer (where John used to work) and it didn’t take us long to find a new (to us) car. They had a 2018 Toyota Corolla Quest that was demo model which would meet our needs. We were able to take possession of it on February 7.
We did go to the Umzumbe church on New Years’ Eve and showed a movie to a very small crowd. We had a movie that was aimed at adults and the people who came were mostly children. We had made popcorn so the children loved that. We will choose a children’s movie next time!! The evening ended with a time of prayer and we were home shortly after midnight.
Schools reopened on January 9. Since Dawn is a teacher she had to be at school a couple of days early so we had her girls (Chayah and Seanna) for two days. Dina’s daughter, Erin, also hadn’t started school so we decided to have her join us so we had a lot of fun with the three of them. They stayed overnight one night!
We have been attending the Umzumbe church since we got back. We were very disappointed the first couple of times as so few people were there, but it seems it was just because it was December and many people were away with family. The past few weeks the attendance has been between 20 and 30. Interestingly, many of those who come are children from the community whose parents do not come. One of the ladies teaches a short Sunday School lesson for them. Pray with us that the children continue to come and that they make commitments to the Lord!
I am sure most of you know that my step-Mom, who was my Mom for over 50 years, passed away on February 1st. We knew the time was very near and had debated whether I should return to the US for the funeral. In the end, in consultation with my sister and step-sister, I decided not to go. As you know the weather in Minnesota has been brutal and even some of the near-by family were not able to be at the funeral so I am sure my decision was right. One of my step-nephews was able to have the entire service videoed and I received it the day after the funeral. I am so thankful for the times I had been able to visit Mom over the past two years when we were in the US. She was a joyful, lovely lady!
The day care center has reopened and we are struggling with teachers this year. Our main teacher from last year has enrolled in a training program for teachers so isn’t able to be there every day. The other teachers have no formal training. Also the parents are sending younger children who need more full-time care so we may have to hire more care-givers for them. Michael and Malu, who assists us with the day care center, will meet with the parents and make some decisions.
Just a short story of what Goers are doing around the world. The following is from the team leader of a Goer who is serving in Central Asia on a farm project:
"Abraham has been a tremendous gift on the farm project related to our Bible Training Center. All of our students work alongside Abraham on a daily basis. One major highlight came on Abraham's birthday. His birthday fell during a time that we had 40 Iranians from our church planting network inside their country for exegetical training. On birthdays it is customary for Iranian people to give a blessing to the person whose birthday is being celebrated. One and after stood up and gave testimony to Abraham being a man of few words and more a man of action. He has been an absolute dream for our team. Since Abraham has arrived we have baptized 41 Iranians and almost all of these men Abraham has touched in some way or anther. It has been great to watch him flourish."
Some things you can definitely be praying about are:
- Praise God for stories like these and many others from around the world!
- Pray for GoCorps mobilizers who are back on the road, visiting colleges
- Praise God, the Nelsons found a car!
I would love to hear how you are doing and to hear about ways that I can be lifting you up in prayer.
Mike & Jackie Nelson
Olivia, Eden, & Brielle
Valley Christian Church,
I want to write to tell you thank you for the offering that you send me every month.
As the minister of the Ontañon Church of Christ, I would like to report a growth in all areas. We now have 3 new classrooms (adult, youth & children). The adults grew the most by having 4 the first week & then three weeks later they had 15.
We have outreach to the community by a food pantry and a new Christian book club. Our needy neighbors were so happy to receive fresh fruits & vegetables. The book club will meet on Mondays. (one in the morning and the other in the evening). The first book is about Christian Ethics.
Again thank you.
José Manuel Gonzalez
Emanuel Mexico Mission
Dear Friends of HopeKids,
In 2018, your support provided 504 events to 1,409 families - many days, multiple events were taking place! More importantly, you provided a safe community for families to meet others who understand the toll that medical bills and hospital visits can have on families who have a child with a life-threatening medical condition. A two-hour event can have a lasting impact when you meet new friends who become family.
"I can’t explain the feeling we had being surrounded by parents who 'get it.' It was wonderful being somewhere we don’t feel out of place. Each and every person understood Sawyer and what it’s like to live in our shoes. It’s wonderful to be able to exhange information and ideas with families, as well. We had a wonderful time and feel so blessed to have found HopeKids to help us feel included in an oftentimes excluded life." - Francie, Sawyer’s mom
Your generous support creates a safe and suppportive community that brings hope to the hearts of families, just like Sawyer's. Thank you for believing in and advancing the mission of HopeKids!
Brian Anderson, Executive Director
Our project needs your prayers!
Dear Praying Friends,
We had a very smooth trip on our return overseas - thank you for your prayers. We're still just a bit jet-lagged, but it's getting better each day. Oddly, though the weather is generally warmer here than in Minnesota (our USA base), we feel much colder, as our overseas house has no central heating. We wear winter coats inside - it's warmer outside in the daytime!
Just before we left, I wrote that our workshop for 3 mountain teams was again canceled. Our team is working out when to reschedule. This is the most challenging group of languages we've worked with, because of their remote locations, and difficulty of travel and communication. One thing we know - we need a lot of prayer to get these workshops up and running. Please pray that God will give us wisdom and perseverance as we move forward.
We always covet and appreciate your prayers!
Hello Ministry Partners,
I have decided to switch up how I update you all. Instead of me taking a few hours out of my work day to come up with a few paragraphs of content, I'm going to be sending out more frequent, but much shorter updates (along with some prayer requests).
January was (and still is!) a busy month. I, along with 4 other GoCorps team members, were at the Cross Conference in Kentucky from the 2nd to the 5th. It was amazing! Email me, text me, find me sometime and ask me about it!
The next weekend, the entire GoCorps staff was all together in Texas for a staff retreat (see the photo above). It was a great time to spend reflecting on 2018 and praising God for the work he accomplished through us. We also got to set some goals as a team and as individuals. And we were able to spend some time just hanging out together since we live in all corners of the US.
One last note: Our car was backed into during Christmas break (with no one inside) and it was totaled. We are so thankful that no one was hurt (including the person who hit our car)! But we now are in the market to replace that car with the insurance money we received. If you or someone you know has a reasonably priced, reliable car, please let us know!
Some things you can definitely be praying about are:
Prayers for the 3 students who have already committed to go through GoCorps in 2019!
Prayers for the 86 college students who are currently filling out GoCorps applications
Prayers for the students who heard about GoCorps at Urbana Missions Conference and Cross Conference
Mike & Jackie Nelson
Olivia, Eden, & Brielle
Dear Valley Christian Church,
Thank you so much for your support of our ministry in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Our mission "Emanuel Mexico Mission" is expanding and reaching out to our community. Our church has two new classrooms. One is for adults with a computer and screen, which allows for our lesson to be presented in power point. The other classroom is for the youth. We are hoping to begin our food pantry this month as well.
We currently have 5 young men (boys) staying with us that are studying in the Jr. High, High School and University. We are calling this ministry our Campus House. These boys are helping with their own expenses, chores, etc. It is good for them to begin learning how to be responsable while still living under our roof.
Thank you for your offerings and prayers.
David and Sheri DeBolt
A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU
from hot, humid South Africa.
We arrived safely back in South Africa on December 12 after our flights from Minneapolis to Boston, then from Boston to Amsterdam, and (a very bumpy flight) from Amsterdam to Cape Town. Our flight landed in Cape Town too late to catch a flight to Durban so we stayed overnight and left early the next morning. Our daughter, Dina, met us there with a pickup to transport us and all of our luggage home.
Shortly after we got to our house, most of the rest of the family arrived and we enjoyed visiting and eating together. What a joy to see our girls, their husbands and six of the seven grandchildren. (John and Rebecca had to work so they couldn’t be here.) The little ones all grew a lot while we were away – especially Michael, who was seven weeks old when we left and almost eight months old when we got back.
It did take a few days to get our body clocks back on the right time zone. I (Caryl) especially had a hard time with that this time. I don’t know if it was just tension or if I am just getting old! Fortunately, I am now almost back to normal sleeping and waking hours. We have been busy trying to get the house back in order and taking care of some urgent paper work.
On Sunday, the 16th we went to a church about forty-five minutes from here for special services. Two of the ministers from KwaZulu Natal were ordained. Two of the ministers from the Northern Cape came to participate in the service. We enjoyed seeing a lot of our Christian friends at that service. We were especially pleased to see Anna Songo, widow to minister Barnabas Songo. She is 80 years old and still in good health.
Monday was a public holiday here and Sunday had been Chayah’s 10th birthday so the family gathered at their house to celebrate. We had a pizza party - the choice of the birthday girl. Grandpa made home-made ice cream to go with the cupcakes her mom made. It was a fun and relaxing day.
The Christmas celebrations have begun. We went to a carols’ evening and nativity play last night. Chayah was Angel Gabriel, Erin was also an angel, Seanna was a shepherd and Matthew was the star of Bethlehem, complete with flashing lights. We will attend church at Umzumbe tomorrow and then join a small group to sing carols at a hospice in Port Shepstone on Monday. Our family Christmas will be on Christmas Day at Diane and John’s house.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2019!!
"ON CHRIST THE SOLID ROCK I STAND"
The words of this old hymn reminds us of who we believe in. "There is one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." Ephesians 4:4-6 The scriptures remind us of who we believe in and who we are, but most importantly who we live for and serve.
Exactly half of my life has now been dedicated to Christian ministry. Has the latter half been more easy than the first? NO! There have been more challenges physically, emotionally and spiritually. Sometimes we are put in positions of leadership to defend the faith we believe in and defend the reasons we answered the call to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Along the way, some have abandoned us, some have questioned our ways. I'm reminded that even the closest of Jesus's followers denied and abandoned Him. Those verses from Ephesians 4 remind us of our Christian heritage and Christian doctrine. We are placed here to share the Church of Christ doctrine only and defend our beliefs in Jesus Christ.
We were, "created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:24 In the NIV Thompson Chain Reference Bible there is a heading beside these verses. "Lessons in Christ School". Teaching, Christ, the Truth. As many have said the best school is called "Life". I call it "Living for Jesus".
As this year is coming to a close we look back on the many challenges that faced us. Here we are close to entering a new year with our faith stronger than ever, our convictions to serve the Church of Christ stronger than ever and ready for new opportunities to boldly say "ON CHRIST THE SOLID ROCK I STAND." I believe in Jesus Christ, I proudly can say I am "Christian only and I live for and serve the Church of Christ." "I'm a Christian" no matter the circumstances, are you?
NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN 2019:
A. The Iglesia de Cristo (Church of Christ) is growing once again. They will be given the opportunity to have more space for more outreach such as graded Sunday School space for both the children, teens and adults.
B. We will take on more Mission responsabilities and outreach to the inner city as well as Mexico as more funds become available. Plans are to help young adults in need of a home while they study. Much like a Christian campus house.
C. The Food Pantry is ready to serve orphans, widows, the San Luis Potosi Bible College and who ever else is in need.
D. Not only a Food Pantry will be available, but a place for clothes and other articles for the Inner City people.
E. Inner City VBS, outreach and camps both in the north and south are already on the 2019 calendar.
F. Raise more personal support for Jose who is the minister of the Ontañon Church. One church has already adopted Jose and is supporting him with a monthly gift.
These are just a few of the ministries that Emanuel Mexico Mission will be involved in. Are the funds available for all this and more? It depends on our Faith in God and your trust in us. We are one in Jesus Christ! Thank you for praying, giving and believing in us.
HEADING BACK TO SOUTH AFRICA
As we count down the hours to our departure, we look back over the past 15 months. Caryl returned to the US in August, 2017, nearly two months before Michael returned in October. When he arrived we “hit the ground running” and visited seven supporting churches in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
We returned to South Africa at the end of December, attended a niece’s wedding, enjoyed a photo safari with Michael’s siblings and a family friend, welcomed grandchild number seven, and got back to work.
In July 2018 we returned to the US and over the past 5 months we have visited our supporting churches and individuals in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. We also attended the International Conference on Missions in Cincinnati and visited the Ark Encounter.
We made our home base in Kimball Minnesota with our friend, Richard Eckman, in 2017 and with Larry and Marguerite Stanley in Apple Valley Minnesota this year. We are so thankful for them and for family and friends who hosted us on our travels and on breaks between trips.
In 2017 we got a Honda Accord to drive during our times here. We were able to sell it just a few days ago. Praise the Lord! We will miss it, but we are so glad to have that taken care of before our departure.
Now we are packing the suitcases and getting ready to leave Minnesota with its cold and snow for the heat and humidity of South Africa. Thank the Lord for safety and provision over the past 15 months. Pray for us as we travel and resume our ministry in South Africa.